COVID-19 hit Toronto quickly and with a vengeance, resulting in a shutdown of most of the city and strict orders to stay home and self-isolate. As the weeks mount and the stats suggest that social distancing measures will be our reality for months to come, it’s only a matter of time before the mental health of most of us takes a major toll – that is, if it hasn’t already.
Between fear of the virus, sadness of being separated from friends and family, financial stress, and feelings of isolation, the daily struggle is very real during these times. The bottom line is that we’re going to need all of the support we can get on the mental health front. Recognizing this, on Monday, April 6, leading Canadian digital mental health and behavioural health therapy service MindBeacon stepped up to the plate to offer a free digital program for all Canadians called Stronger Minds.
Backed by Manulife and Green Shield Canada (GSC), the new digital program is available to all Canadians for an unlimited period, with no assessment or obligation needed to sign up. It recognizes that, while Canadians are looking for expert-led support in these times, not everyone requires or wants a full course of therapy. Instead, Stronger Minds provides participants with day-to-day guidance in the form of videos, quick reads, and resilience-building activities from the extensive MindBeacon team of clinical psychologists.
The range of topics will adjust and develop as the world changes (so, constantly), with fresh and useful insights provided daily. Created to address the specific emotional worries stirred by the pandemic, Stronger Minds is distinct from the existing treatment service offered through Beacon’s guided digital therapy (iCBT).
“During the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve heard from Canadians right across the country – and mental health challenges have been a common theme,” says Joe Blomeley, GSC’s EVP, Individual, Public Sector and Mental Health. “It’s in our DNA to step up in moments like this and bring high-quality mental health care options within easier reach. Beacon digital therapy has already improved the mental health of thousands of Canadians, and we are excited about the potential of the Stronger Minds program.”
Once you create an account and log on, you’ll be prompted to answer the question,“How confident are you in your ability to cope with the challenges poised by COVID-19?” and select from five options for answers. You’ll then be directed to get started on the modules, which address everything from managing feelings of stress and helplessness, to developing healthy coping mechanisms.
“Our MindBeacon team of clinical psychologists, with our collective expertise and experience, makes us well-suited to help people with the challenges that matter through this time – whether it’s difficulties with social isolation, supporting struggling family members, worries about financial insecurity, and much more,” says Dr. Peter Farvolden, clinical psychologist and Chief Science Officer for BEACON. “Canada is in this together and we’re wholeheartedly ready to help Canadians cope through the stressful events of this time, so they can successfully face every day as it comes.”
The sad reality is that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives under normal circumstances. Add the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding it, and it’s safe to say that there is definitely a need for a service like this one.
*****If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call 1-833-456-4566 for 24/7 support.